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National Museum of Australia

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4

Rally For The Rivers

Object information

Physical description

A poster in the shape of a triangle. It has an orange border surrounding a secondary a white border and a yellow centre. There is text along each edge. The outer top edge reads "Reform The Legislative Council" and the left edge reads "Start franklin square 12.30pm ...to arrive at Parliament house at 1.00pm" and the right edge reads "Pre-rally entertainment "Gollywobblers" folk band 12-12.30pm. There is larger text around the edges that is slightly closer to the centre. The top reads "Rally for the Rivers" and the left reads "Franklin River" and the right reads "Rally Wed 2 Sept '81' ". The centre of the triangle features an illustration of a platypus sitting on a rock near a river, and a block of text that reads "The Legislative Council, The HEC / The Parliamentary Liberal Party / and some union leaders / are pushing hard for / a hydro-electric scheme / that would flood / the Franklin / River we must / fight to retain / these areas / in their / natural / state." The poster has been laminated and is slightly curved at the edges.

Statement of significance

This collection of approximately 3000 items consists of ephemera, documents and personal artefacts relates to the life and work of Senator (Bob) Robert James Brown, one of Australia's most prominent conservationists and environmental activists. The collection is particularly strong in relation to ephemera from the 'Save the Franklin' campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but also includes some pro-dam ephemera that shows the opposition's point of view. Material from the earlier 'Save Lake Pedder' campaign is also well represented.

Dr Bob Brown, a medical doctor, rose to prominence in the late 1970s after taking on the directorship of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society (TWS) and becoming one of Australia's most outspoken and high profile opponents of the Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission's plans to flood the Gordon and Franklin Rivers in Tasmania's largely untamed southwest. Building on the impetus of earlier campaigns against the flooding of Lake Pedder, the TWS was spectacularly successful in galvanising national public opinion against the Gordon and Franklin dam proposal. This reached its zenith with the 'No Dams' campaign that commenced in 1981 and culminated in the July 1983 decision by the High Court of Australia against the construction of the dam. This decision also had broader political and constitutional ramifications because it was seen by some as an undermining of state rights, while others saw it as a milestone in national conservation awareness that underscored the power of environmental issues in national politics.

As a result of his very public efforts to preserve Australia's natural heritage Dr Bob Brown was made Australian of the Year in 1983, and received the UNEP Global 500 Award 1987, and the Goldman Environmental Prize USA 1990. He was elected as an independent to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1983 and has served as a federal senator for the Australian Greens since 1996.

Object information

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